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Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: Odisha's Kotia panchayat is once again in the headlines following the poll dates announcement by Andhra Pradesh government in the region. Such a move has drawn sharp reactions here with the neighbouring state being accused of meddling in the affairs of Kotia region at regular intervals.

The border dispute is not new. Both Andhra Pradesh and Odisha governments have been trying hard to woo the residents of Kotia panchayat in Koraput district by promising and inaugurating a slew of welfare projects.

Many are wandering the reason behind Andhra Pradesh's conspiracy to bring Kotia under its fold. It is being said that the neighbouring state is eying Kotia due to presence of huge reserves of minerals and valuable gemstones.

According to locals, there is a mountain which they refer to as ‘Suna Pahad’ and one can find several precious gemstones including Cat’s eye stone. The villagers also believe that the place has reserves of gold and silver.

“Andhra Pradesh is eyeing Kotia as the region has reserves of gold, silver, diamond, bauxite and other minerals,” said Rajesh Hantala, a resident of Kotia Panchayat.

Apart from this, the locals say that areas like Nuagaon, Ralegada are rich in eight to 10 types of mineral resources. All such attempts of Andhra Pradesh are just to plunder these natural resources, allege local residents.

“Andhra Pradesh has assured the locals to provide jobs if they acquire the Suna Pahada,” said Sunil Khara, former Nuagaon Sarpanch.

It is also being said that due to lack of political intent on part of Odisha government to carry out developmental works, the inhabitants of Kotia are inclining towards Andhra Pradesh. No step has been allegedly taken by the State government for effective utilisation of the natural resources or for the social development of the region.

Such lapses have now given an opportunity to the opposition parties including Congress and BJP to slam Odisha government.

Former Congress MP Pradip Majhi said, “Cat’s eye can be found in abundance here and are being trafficked to other States. There are several instances of such plunder and we urge Odisha government for proper excavation and preservation of such resources.”

BJP leader Jayram Pangi said, “There is lack of intent by Odisha government for development of eco-tourism which can create employment opportunities in the region.”

However, Pradip Kumar Nayak, Deputy Mines Director, Koraput said, “ I have no information about the availability of any minerals in Kotia. Only after proper inquiry we can comment on it.”

(Edited By Pradeep Singh)

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